Our body undergoes physical changes affecting our overall ability to perform complex physical tasks as we age. However, staying physically active can help you stay healthy and counteract these changes.
Routine physical activities and exercises can significantly benefit your health. It improves your fitness and enhances your mental and social health. It is also proven that regular physical activity can fight off chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, depression and cancers.
It is ideal to have at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercises or physical activity each week or 75 minutes to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercises each week. This should be combined with a strengthening routine twice a week.
Here are some of the most recommended exercises you can easily do on your own to help you stay active and prevent the effects of deconditioning:
This activates the hip muscles of the pelvis, which are vital for the stability and control of your knees, ankles and spine. These muscles are crucial in keeping your balance during activities such as running and walking.
Stand in front of a kitchen counter and use it as support when needed.
Step on your left for 10-20 steps and walk to your right back to the starting position.
Do this several times a day. You can challenge yourself by adding a resistance band above your knees.
As we age, we tend to develop poor posture due to poor habits and muscle imbalance. For example, many people develop a forward head posture with rounding of the shoulders, which creates unnecessary stress on the neck and back muscles.
Stand straight while keeping your ear aligned with your shoulders.
Squeeze your shoulder blades back and down as if you are squeezing a ball behind your back using your shoulder blades.
Hold this position for 6 seconds and slowly return to your starting position.
Repeat for ten reps for three sets.
Your natural sense of balance can decrease if you become inactive. Therefore, it is important to do activities that challenge your balance to help prevent injuries and falls.
Stand in front of a kitchen counter or any stable surface, which you can use as support when needed.
Gently lift one foot and try to balance on a single leg for 10-20 seconds.
Do this ten times on each leg.
You can increase the difficulty of this exercise by closing your eyes.
Be sure to have someone standing near you to help if you have a problem with your balance.
This exercise allows you to use the strength of your hip and leg muscles. It also trains you to control your movement during sitting activities.
Sit on a stable chair with back support. Sit close to the edge of your seat, so your feet are firmly planted on the floor.
Push your feet against the floor and stand tall.
Slowly lower yourself back to the seated position.
Do this ten times
The pelvic floor muscles play a crucial role in our daily lives. They assist in the control of your bowel movement and urination. In addition, it also provides vital support to the spine and makes sexual activities pleasurable.
Muscle weakness can affect the pelvic floor muscles as we age, resulting in various conditions such as back pain and urinary incontinence.
Lay flat in bed or on the floor. Bend both of your knees.
Squeeze the muscles of the pelvic floor as if you are stopping urination.
Hold the position for 5 seconds and then relax.
Do this for ten reps several times throughout the day.
Do not hold your breath when performing this exercise.
Another great exercise to improve your balance and coordination is the heel-to-toe walk. This exercise allows you to decrease your risk of falls and injuries. However, this exercise is not as easy as it looks, so it is advisable to try it with supervision first.
Stand near a kitchen counter for support.
Cross your left leg in front of your right leg.
Gently lift your right leg and step out to your right.
Cross your left leg behind your right leg.
Do this sequence for 20 to 30 steps and then return to the starting position by doing an opposite sequence.
If you have difficulties performing these exercises, consult a physiotherapist to guide you with appropriate exercise and movements. They are movement experts who can help you achieve better function and improve your overall physical health.